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Getting Down and Dirty at the Jeep Jamboree Last week I was fortunate to attend

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2005 Ford Mustang GT-R Concept

Mustang GT-R Concept Harks Back to Ford’s Legendary Trans-Am Days Once again the world’s media decended upon Manhattan’s Jacob Javits

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Volvo Upgrades S60, V70, XC70 Styling for 2005

More Power for All 2005 S60, V70, XC70s

Volvo’s midsize S60 sedan, V70 wagon and XC70 crossover utility vehicle will receive their first major mid-cycle facelifts for the 2005 model year. These models have helped redefine the way that the pubic perceives Volvo, an automaker that is no longer seen as a purveyor of stodgy boxes driven by university professors.

The Volvo S60, V70, and XC70, models which redefined the brand, all receive their first major mid-cycle facelifts for the 2005.
At the same time, Volvo has used the S60, V70 and XC70 to expand into new market segments the brand has never attempted before, and now can be recognized amongst the best when it comes to all-wheel drive systems, performance attributes and in Europe, diesel power.

The facelift of the three related models mirrors changes made to the S80 in model year 2004, with subtle revisions to exterior trim, and interior design elements, as well as updated technology.

Interior quality has been improved all around, with the new Volvos featuring optional silver weave seats, real walnut trim and much more.

Both sedan and wagon body styles have been thoroughly updated in front, with new headlamps, grille inserts and fascias. With specific regard to the S60, Volvo has lowered the hoodline effectively creating a sportier stance than in previous models. This is accentuated with a blacked-out grille and rounded foglights, unique to the S60.

The V70 features similar changes, but its grille is chrome instead and it features squared foglights. Both the V70 and S60 can be had with chrome bumper inserts, adding sophistication and class.

Chrysler Group to Stop Production at Mitsubishi’s Normal, Illinois Plant

Loss of Revenue Producing Partnership is seen as Blow to Mitsubishi

Is the Mitsubishi/DaimlerChrysler feud getting personal? Only a week after Mitsubishi Motor Corp. (MMC) announced that it had finalized a capital procurement of $4.5 billion for its revitalization efforts, Chrysler Group drops another bomb by stating it will soon stop production at MMC’s Normal, Illinois production facility.

Just as things were looking up for Mitsubishi, DaimlerChrysler dropped another bomb by announcing it would stop Chrysler Sebring coupe (shown) and Dodge Stratus coupe production at the Japanese brand’s Normal, Illinois plant.

Chrysler Group spokesman Jason Vines was quoted in The Detroit News saying that a decision to end production at MMC’s Normal plant prior to DCX making a decision to pull support from Mitsubishi’s refinancing negotiations.

Vines didn’t give a reason for the decision to discontinue production of the coupe versions of the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus at the plant, which incidentally share general architecture and major components with the Mitsubishi Eclipse coupe and Spyder models, but reiterated Chrysler Group will continue sharing parts and developing new models together with MMC.

To be fair to DaimlerChrysler, the Dodge Stratus (shown) and Chrysler Sebring coupes, the only DCX cars produced at the Normal plant, may not be part of the automaker’s lineup when the current Sebring/Stratus sedans and convertibles are redesigned.

It is quite possible Chrysler Group has decided not to offer coupe variants of the popular Sebring and Stratus nameplates when the new model arrives, being that the 2-door hardtops don’t sell as well as the 4-door sedan or 2-door convertible models. The sedan and convertible do not share components with any Mitsubishi model or the 2-door coupes.

With the recent announcement, water cooler gossip surrounds the next generation Sebring/Stratus, both of which until recently were expected to be based on current Mitsubishi Galant chassis architecture. If this unsubstantiated rumor was correct, it would have made building the two models side by side a cost effective solution. Obviously Chrysler Group knows their business better than those in the rumor mill, and has chosen to build their new midsize front-wheel drive cars at another location regardless of where it will derive major components, most likely the Sterling Heights, Michigan and Belvidere, Illinois plants, the Detroit newspaper stated.

2004 Fuore BlackJag Concept

An XJ220 Replacement in the Making?

Though this concept car is called the BlackJag, the company that designed and engineered it has nothing to do with the legendary British motor company. It bears the leaping cat badge for sure, but the BlackJag project was executed completely separate of Jaguar, aside from authorization to use the brand name.

The independent design firm Fuore has crafted the stunning BlackJag concept.
Several thousand miles away in Barcelona, Spain, the independent design firm Fuore has crafted what they believe to be the future of Jaguar sports cars. This low, sleek super-sports car is the second of such vehicles that Fuore has created under the Jaguar badge, following the FX10 supercar unveiled last year.

The front end of the BlackJag pulls design cues from the FX10 supercar (see Fuore FX10 review in Jaguar concept archives).

While it’s true that the BlackJag and the FX10 may appear very similar upon first glance, there are quite a few differences between the two. The BlackJag’s nose is less elongated and more flowing than its predecessor, and the new car doesn’t carry the metallic stripe that spans the length of the hood, running from the base of the windshield to the grille. The second Fuore Jaguar’s headlamps stretch out sideways as opposed to being slim vertically stacked units, while secondary grilles and ventilation slats integrated into the front fascia are different. Foglights are nixed on the newer concept car too. The split mesh grille, which forms the leading edge of the BlackJag’s front bumper, stays, albeit somewhat modified.

2003 Lancia Granturismo Stilnovo Concept

Teasing with the Untouchables

Ever heard of Lancia? It’s an old carmaker with an extremely rich history in both motorsport and upscale personal transportation. Models such as the Lambda,

Unfortunately Lancia is no longer sold in North America, but it’s still interesting to check out what the brand offers on the other side of the Atlantic.

Aurelia and Stratos will forever rate highly on the must-have lists of classic car enthusiasts, while some of the nameplates more recent models, such as boxy but phenomenally quick all-wheel drive Delta Integrale rally car and artistically beautifully Thesis luxury sedan, currently available.

To European automotive enthusiasts the fact that the Lancia brand is no longer available in North America is a shame indeed, but it’s still hard not to take a peek at what the Italian automaker has to offer on the other side of the Atlantic once in a while. In the case of Lancia’s latest, the Granturismo Stilnovo, it’s merely a concept, and therefore taking a closer look doesn’t have quite the same

The Granturismo Stilnovo concept marries two seemingly opposite ideals, sedan practicality and sports coupe high-performance.
bite as if it were available and out of our collective reach.

The Granturismo Stilnovo, which came onto the scene at the 2003 Barcelona motor show, marries two very different motoring concepts that were until recently believed to be irreconcilable, the practicality and flexibility of a conventional sedan and the high-performance attributes of an out-and-out sports coupe.

The dream child of a joint venture between the Lancia Style Centre, Studio Carcerano and Carrozzeria Maggiora, the Stilnovo looks wonderful. If it’s an example of future Lancia design, North Americans had better start begging GM, part shareholder in Lancia’s parent company Fiat, to import the luxury brand.

2004 Buick Velite Concept

Buick Builds an Image Enhancer

I can’t remember the last time I lusted after a new Buick, if ever. I’m too young to have been aware of the ’63 Riviera when it came on the scene, having been born the same year, but nevertheless I’ve since slotted it in as one of my favorite domestic cars of all time. The 1988 to 1991 Reatta caught my attention when it debuted, but unlike the first Riv, it wasn’t one hundred percent right. Not like the new Velite Concept.

For the first time in my life I find myself lusting after a new Buick.
The new Velite is one hundred percent right? Well, being that I couldn’t get close enough to it after its introduction to make such an all-inclusive statement, I won’t commit that far. Still, for the first time in a long time Buick has captured the spirit of motoring in a very intoxicating way.

After all, when General Motors announced that Oldsmobile was to be fazed out of production, a common joke being bantered about the office went something like this: While none of us would be able to buy our fathers’ Oldsmobiles anymore, at least we’d still be able to purchase our grandfathers’ Buicks.

For the first time in a long time Buick has captured the spirit of motoring in a very intoxicating way.Now that a couple of years have passed, for some unexplained reason it’s still possible to buy a new Oldsmobile, and despite new SUV and crossover models bearing the Buick badge it’s still the nameplate of choice by the octogenarian set. Even the new LaCrosse is about as conservative as any new car in its class. While it’s very nice, and sleek for Buick’s standards, the brand’s designers didn’t exactly stray too far from convention.

But the same customers the LaCrosse is designed to attract were those who once saw the GM division as one of the most desirable domestic brands, back when Roadmasters, Rivieras and Wildcats ruled the roadways. Such were the last of the glory days.

2005 Ford Mustang GT-R Concept

Mustang GT-R Concept Harks Back to Ford’s Legendary Trans-Am Days

Once again the world’s media decended upon Manhattan’s Jacob Javits conference center for New York’s annual auto show, the last big North American event of the year, and Ford was first on stage with its go-green Escape Hybrid. While a very important vehicle, for blue oval sales as well as environmental kudos, it’s hardly anything to get the blood of true enthusiasts boiling.

That job fell on a specially modified version of Ford’s upcoming 2005 Mustang. They’re tuning a Mustang that hasn’t even hit the showroom yet? Sure. After all, the Mustang has always been about performance, at least those with V8 engines under the hood.

Of course if you trace the name back to its Falcon-based roots you’ll see that not all Mustangs were created equal. Some, like the legendary Boss 428 and more modern Cobra R were granted more muscle than others. Currently a Mustang buyer can option up to a GT, Mach 1 or Cobra if more performance is wanted, or even better buck up for a Saleen or Steeda tuned version, the companies that transform mere ponies into powerhouse stallions.

So, what’s next in line for the all-new 2005 Mustang? Would it surprise you to hear that a future Mustang designation could end up being GT-R? That’s the nameplate Ford chose for their latest concept, a rolling parts showcase from the Ford Racing catalog. If you think you’ve heard the GT-R name before that’s because it’s synonymous with the Nissan Skyline GT-R, legendary in the import performance scene?

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